Developing a Willing Heart

     Sometimes during prayer, I catch my breath before saying certain things because I do not want those things to happen—that is one of the indications that my life is not fully surrendered.

     What keeps us from surrendering? I have found one reason is fear.

     –Fear that if we surrender God will ask us to give up our life or our health.

     What if God sends me onto the mission field in a country where Christians can be executed for their beliefs?

     What if God asks me to spend my life in a wheelchair like Joni Eareckson Tada?

     –Fear that if we surrender God might take a personal possession or personal relationship from us.

     What if God asks me to give the money I have been saving for an emergency need to a struggling family or a missionary?

     What if God asks me to give up something I treasure?

     –Fear that if we surrender, our life will be void of pleasure.

     What if God tells me a favorite pastime is not productive, such as watching home improvement shows on TV?  

     What if God tells me the money I spend on that cold brew coffee with sweet cream could be better spent in a monthly donation to a charity?

     These fears cause me to catch my breath, hesitant to surrender.

     What does a surrendered life look like?

“Christian surrender means that a person lifts his or her hands and says to God, ‘Here I am, I surrender, You take over, I belong to You, You dispose of me!’” states Josef Tson, a Romanian pastor and Christian leader.

     According to Helen Roseveare, a missionary doctor who served in the Belgian Congo in the 1950s and 60s, surrender is to be a living sacrifice.

“To be a living sacrifice will involve all my time. God wants me to live every minute for Him in accordance with His will and purpose… No time can be considered as my own, or as ‘off-duty’ or ‘free.’

     To be a living sacrifice will involve all my possessions… All should be available to God for the furtherance of His Kingdom. My money is His penny… I must consider that I own nothing. All is God’s, and what I have, I have on trust from Him, to be used as He wishes.”

     Those definitions sound daunting. Yes, they can strike fear in our hearts!

     They confirm our understanding of a surrendered life. It is a life like the one Mother Theresa lived. But we all aren’t used of God in the same way. We aren’t faced with a big decision to leave what we know, all that is familiar, and go to the slums of India to serve the poor as she did.

     For most of us, surrender happens one situation at a time. I once came across a description that helped me gain a clearer picture.

     Most people think of surrender, offering up all we are and all we have to the Lord, as taking a $1000 bill and laying it on the table. A life like Mother Theresa.

     But for most the Lord sends us to the bank and has us cash the money in for quarters. Throughout our life we are asked to surrender quarters one, two, maybe 50 or 100 at a time.

     We might be asked to open our home to a foster child, cook a meal once a week for someone who is homebound, regularly encourage a friend with a negative mindset, volunteer to chaperone an overnight outing with the youth group at our church, or offer to babysit for our neighbor while she writes or paints for an hour.

     Surrender is a situation-by-situation decision, but it begins with a willing heart. How does this willing heart come about?

     Psalm 37:4-5

     “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

     Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this.”

     **Delight yourself in the Lord.

     When I read this directive, I think of grandmothers. Every grandmother I have met is eager to tell stories about their grandchildren. They tell about the things they do that show how smart they are and how cute they are. Grandmothers are also eager to show pictures.

     Do we show that we are delighted in the Lord by telling stories of his work in our lives?

     Do we show people pictures of God because we have come to know Him and understand that we give people a correct view of Him when we reveal His attributes through our behavior, such as being merciful, kind, and loving?

     To be delighted in the Lord is to be in love with Him. We fall in love with God when we come to know God and understand just how much he loves us. And when we embrace God’s love His love pours out of us.

     The Apostle Paul loved the Lord Jesus Christ so much he described himself as a bondslave of Christ. The concept of a bondslave is described in Exodus chapter 21. Among the Jews, fellow Hebrews who had been purchased had to be set free in the seventh year, however they could choose to stay and continue to serve their master. If they chose to become a bondslave their ear would be pierced with an awl, and they would become a servant for life.

     When we come to know Jesus our love for Him becomes so strong we want Him to be our master, we want to have our ear pierced so we are identified as His bondslave.

     **Commit your way to the Lord.

     In Hebrew this English word commit means to roll your way upon the Lord. The idea is rolling a heavy burden from ourselves onto another.

     In Barnes Notes it states the reference is to the whole course of life, or all that can affect life. This is all our plans or conduct and all the issues or results of those plans. It is equivalent here to ‘lot’ or ‘destiny.’ Everything, regarding the way we live, and all its results are to be committed to the Lord.

     The term “way” means the act of treading or going, a path, a course of life– the manner in which we live.

     **Trust in Him.

     How do we come to trust God? By coming to know Him so we know that He is trustworthy.

     This is accomplished by reading our Bibles, the book where God reveals His attributes and characteristics. We learn that He is compassionate, good, all-powerful, merciful, righteous, gracious, just, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness. Also, we learn that He is our refuge, our savior, our provider, and our strength.

     Knowing this, we place our faith in Him and thus learn He is who He says He is. All we have read about Him in the Bible is true.

     Growth in Godly desires results in a willing heart. Hannah Whitall Smith describes this process in her book “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life.”2

     “God’s promise is that He will work in us to will as well as to do His good pleasure. This means He will take possession of our will and work it for us; that His suggestions will come to us not so much commands from the outside as desires springing up within. They will originate in our will; we shall feel as though we desired to do so and so not as though we must.”

©2023 Susan Cort Johnson *All Rights Reserved

Let’s Talk:

1-What keeps you from surrendering all?

2-If you live a surrendered life, share something that has helped you to accomplish this lifestyle.


1- Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997-2014 by Biblesoft, Inc.

2-“A Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life” by Hannah Whitall Smith. Published 1983 by Whitaker House.

Leave a Reply